Wal-Mart to donate $20 million for Harvey relief efforts, works to reopen stores

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 939 views 

Wal-Mart Stores and its foundation on Wednesday announced up to $20 million for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. This includes $10 million focused on support of American Red Cross shelters and $2 million in support of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

“Our Texas family of customers and associates are experiencing devastating impact from this storm,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores. “We are on the ground to help our friends and neighbors in the Gulf region, and we’ll continue to be in the tough days, weeks, and months ahead.”

The retailer said it will match customer donations two to one up to $10 million in cash and products. The customer campaign with the American Red Cross will assist with Hurricane Harvey relief. The retailer said its initial focus will be on mega-shelters, providing items to meet basic needs, such as water, infant formula, diapers, underwear and personal hygiene products.

“We will also aim to increase comfort in these shelters by providing items such as TVs, DVDs, games and stuffed animals for children and healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit,” McMillon said.

Wal-Mart and its foundation have pledged an additional $10 million of support for the Salvation Army, Feeding America, Convoy of Hope, Team Rubicon and Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation in addition to other organizations assisting food distribution, sheltering and cleanup efforts.

McMillon said the magnitude of the hurricane and subsequent flooding prompted the retailer to raise its previous relief pledge of $1 million made Sunday. He said the retailer is working to open closed stores which totaled 30 locations – including three Sam’s Clubs – as of Wednesday afternoon. McMillon said Texas is home to nearly 600 Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club stores that employ more than 169,000. As of Wednesday evening, 45 stores in the affected areas have reopened. The retailer had 100 locations shuttered at various times during the past few days.

Wal-Mart said it’s centralizing relief efforts through Walmart Emergency Operations Center with operations 24 hours a day tracking storm impact and supporting the retailer’s employees’ needs and well-being. The EOC team facilitates store recovery and is supporting community relief efforts in the Gulf region which includes shipments of emergency supplies to multiple shelter operations in the area. McMillon said the retailer is working to help its own employees which have been impacted in 16 Texas counties.

“We’ve received calls from more than 11,000 associates and are helping in various capacities, such as access to earned wage and disaster support assistance, setting up support centers in the impacted areas, providing hot meals to families and proactively calling associates to conduct wellness checks,” he said.

The retailer is shipping more 1,060 truckloads to the impacted areas, including more than 930 truckloads of water. Wal-Mart is launching a mobile pharmacy staffed with pharmacists in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, with another pharmacy being sent to Houston to provide prescription related counseling at no cost to evacuees.

He said Wal-Mart is also providing subject matter experts in logistics and emergency management to assist local emergency operations centers and with establishing local shelters.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner thanked McMillon and Wal-Mart for being there in the midst of the worst storm the Houston region has ever seen.

“It is wonderful to see corporate partners such as Walmart step up and help Houstonians,” Turner said. “We are rebuilding and with these funds we will be able to help Houstonians return to normality.”

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